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Bofferding Receives NSF Early Career Award


Laura Bofferding has received the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Early Career Development Award (CAREER) for her research grant proposal: Leveraging Contrasting Cases to Investigate Integer Understanding.

This is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization. Only 12 CAREER awards were granted in the state of Indiana last year in all research categories (Purdue researchers received 8 of the 12).  

“It is rare to receive this grant, and it is exciting to get it in the first submission,” said Bofferding.   “I am grateful for the opportunity the College of Education has provided, especially to Jim Lehman (Associate Dean for Discovery and Faculty Development) who nominated me for an advanced grant-writing workshop.  I think the education I received in that program really helped me to refine and improve my proposal.”

Laura Bofferding will be using the funding from this grant, $680,000, to conduct a multi-year investigation into how children learn mathematical concepts, especially the relationship between positive and negative numbers.  Current practice is to introduce negative numbers to children in the sixth grade.  In previous research, Bofferding found that working with children as early as first grade with negative numbers helps them enrich their understanding of several mathematical concepts. 

Over the next four years, Bofferding will be working with multiple experimental groups in two different grade levels (second and fourth or fifth) to compare progress and learning outcomes.   In the fifth year of her grant, she hopes to make her research findings relevant to teachers by conducting teacher workshops and creating lesson plans through lesson study that provide practical applications for the findings in classrooms.